Goal Setting Secrets to Help You Win Big in 2011

Written by on December 30, 2010

Welcome to 2011!  This means it’s time to review your results from last year – as well as set your goals for this year.  So in this article, I’m going to pass along 37 of the best goal-setting tips I’ve heard.  Think of it as a “checklist” to keep yourself on track and help you achieve any goal – large or small – you set for yourself this year.  Ready?  Here goes:

1.) Begin with the End in Mind – Author Stephen Covey suggests you start any journey by focusing on the end result first.  When it comes to your goals this year, what do you want to accomplish?  What will it look like – or feel like – once you’ve achieved your goal?  Always start any journey with the “end in mind”.

2.) Picture Yourself In Possession of the Goal – Visualize your goal.  In your mind’s eye, imagine yourself already in possession of your goal.  If your goal is to become a black belt by the end of the year, imagine yourself standing at your belt ceremony having that black belt tied around your waist.  What does that feel like?  Use this emotion to drive you forward every step of the way.

3.) Make Your Goals Specific – When you focus all your energy on a specific target, it becomes easier to hit.  Make sure your goal is crystal clear.  Use specific wording such as “57 pounds lost” or “gain 10 pounds of muscle mass” or “raise my math grade to a B+”.

4.) Choose a Date – Set a date for achieving your goal.  Attaching a date to your goal gives you a deadline for achieving it and creates a sense of urgency.  “Lose 17 pounds by the 1st of March” is better than “Lose 17 pounds”.

5.) Break It Up – Create “milestones” or “mini-goals” on the path to your larger goal.  When you create a step-by-step plan, it keeps you from becoming overwhelmed.  Also, the more you break your goals into bite-sized pieces, the easier it is to focus on what you need to do today.

6.) Strike a Balance – Be sure to include goals for academics, work, personal relationships, community, finances and your family into your goal-setting for the year.  Balance is everything.  You can achieve goals in many areas of your life simultaneously!

7.) Write It Down – When you write down your goal, you make it real.  Get your goal out of your head and into the world.  A goal not written down is just a dream. Writing down your goal is the first step in a solid plan.  “A short pencil is better than a long memory”.

8.) Look at Your Goal Every Day – Tape your written goal where you can see it every day.  This might be on your computer monitor, refrigerator, bulletin board or bathroom mirror.  Make sure you see your goal – in writing – at least twice each and every day.

9.)  Hold Yourself Accountable – Push yourself.  Don’t accept excuses or slack off.  Be your own best coach.

10.)  Get a Goal Buddy – Studies prove those who work out with a buddy lose more weight than those who don’t.  Get a buddy in class with you:  he or she will hold you to your commitments and give you that extra push when you hit a brick wall.

11.) Focus on the Next Small Step – A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.  Ask yourself every morning: “What is the one thing I can do to get one step closer to my goal today?”

12.) Use Positive Self-Talk – The U.S. Navy Seals use positive self-talk on their missions to overcome stress and beat back fear.  You should, too.  Pump yourself up by using positive self-talk like: “I can handle this” or “I can do this”.

13.) Emulate Your Mentors – What one person can do, so can another.  Study others who have already achieved the same goal.  Talk to them.  What did it take?  What obstacles did they face?  How did they overcome them?

14.) Escape Your Comfort Zone – Growing can be a painful process.  But the only way to get the fruit is to go out on a limb.  Be courageous and get out of your comfort zone.  Challenge yourself.

15.) Attend Every Class You Can – Woody Allen said “Success is 90% just showing up”. Don’t miss class.  Every class has an opportunity to get just that little bit better.  Besides, it’s always the class you don’t want to attend that ends up being the most fun.

16.) Expect Obstacles – Anything worth achieving takes time and sacrifice.  Otherwise, everybody would be doing it. Understand and expect obstacles to block your path.  When this happens, you won’t lose heart.  Love the fact that it’s hard: it keeps others out and makes your victory all the sweeter.

17.) Be “Coachable” – Have the attitude of a white belt – no matter what belt rank you’re at.  Be humble and adopt a “beginner’s mind”.  Be a sponge and realize you don’t have all the answers.

18.) Attend at Least One Regional Tournament This Year – When you prepare for an upcoming tournament, it lights a fire under you like nothing else!  It creates a mini-goal to focus upon and channels your energy in a big way.  Attend at least one regional tournament this year.

19.) Avoid Naysayers – Unfortunately, some people drag you down.  I call this the “crab theory”: when one crab tries to climb out of a bucket, the others pull it back in. To achieve something great, you must protect yourself from negativity and doubt.  Distance yourself from “naysayers”.  Instead…

20.) Surround Yourself with Positive People – Get a whole team of enthusiastic, proactive people rooting for you.  When you hang around with other successful people, what ends up happening?  Right: it rubs off and you end up successful.

21.) Teach and Help Others – One of the best ways to learn something is by teaching it to someone else.  Find a lower rank and help them out.  In the process you’ll discover something amazing: your skills will also improve.

22.) Practice in Your Off Time – On vacation?  Practice your forms. Watching TV?  Use that time to stretch. On spring break?  Practice with a buddy and keep your skills sharp.  Studies prove that visualizing techniques in your mind – without even physically doing them – can also improve your skills.  Use off-time wisely.

23.) Create a Wall of Success – Proudly display your rank certificates, belts, tournament medals, trophies, good grades and other reminders of past accomplishment.  They reinforce  the fact that you can set a goal and achieve it.  There’s proof on your wall: You’ve already done it many times!

24.) Take a Private Class – If you need help in a particular area, schedule a private class.  Nothing comes close to one-on-one instruction.

25.) Confront Your Fears – If a  vague fear is holding you back, flush it out.  How is this fear stopping you?  Is your fear realistic?  Usually not.  Often, fear of failure prevents people from reaching their goals.

26.) Reach Out For Help – There are lots of great people – all around you – who want to see you win.  Reach out for advice.  Even people with no experience in your specific interest can offer helpful tips.

27.) Track Your Progress – Measure how close you are to your goal frequently.  Not only does this keep you on track, it motivates you!

28.) Accept Constructive Criticism – When your instructors, judges or sparring partners give you a pointer, listen to them.  They may see something you do not.  Be open.

29.) Celebrate Small Victories – When you accomplish one of your “milestones”, step back for a moment and bask in your mini-success.  Celebrate reaching your milestones as well as your major goals.

30.) Remind Yourself – When the going gets rough, remind yourself of the benefits of achieving your goal.  Think of the payoffs: more confidence, physical fitness, looking good, feeling better, etc.  This helps motivate you.

31.) Enjoy the Journey – The path to your goal is NOT just about the goal itself.  You’ll learn much about yourself along the way.  Sometimes, it’s about the journey, not just the destination.

32.) Don’t Strive for Perfection – Set realistic expectations for yourself and allow yourself room for error along the way.  If you backslide, get back on course right away.

33.) Make It Part of Your Routine – Make achieving your goal part of your daily habit.  It’s easier to achieve goals piecemeal.

34.) Keep a Journal – Grab a small notebook and jot down your ideas, thoughts and struggles.  Even better, blog about it.  You’ll be amazed at the support you’ll receive by opening up to others.

35.) Persevere – There is no substitute for hanging in there and putting forth    extra effort.  Perseverance is often the only thing that makes the difference between achieving your goal and falling short.

36.) Reward Yourself – After you’ve hit your target, treat yourself to a nice dinner, movie out or anything else you can use to motivate yourself.  Why?  Because soon it will be time to…

37.) Set a New Goal – When you’ve achieved your big goal, set a new goal.  Remember: Constant, life-long improvement is a big part of being a martial artist and well rounded person!

— Senior Master Babin